HC Deb 25 June 1997 vol 296 cc539-40W
Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how he intends to achieve the "The Health of the Nation" targets to reduce the percentage of women drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week. [5322]

Ms Jowell

The proportion of women drinking above the previously recommended sensible levels has increased over the last 10 years. It is a trend that is reflected throughout most of Europe which is strongly related to women's changing socioeconomic status.

We are funding a project at the University of Birmingham on why people drink more than recommended sensible levels. This will inform future policy and health education campaigns. Activities targeting women have been encouraged at local level through the Health Education Authority. In addition, a successful new health promotion booklet was launched last year aimed at women over 35 in the lower socioeconomic groups; the booklet includes advice on sensible drinking.

We are considering possible ways of revising alcohol targets for women which reflect the advice in the 1995 inter-departmental report "Sensible Drinking".

Mr. Chaytor

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the costs to the national health service of the abuse of alcohol. [5173]

Ms Jowell

Estimates of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality vary widely; the most recent academic estimate of which we are aware is reproduced in the table.

£ million
Psychiatric hospitals, inpatient costs 26.51
Non-psychiatric hospitals, inpatient costs 10.64
Other alcohol-related inpatient costs 109.41
General practice costs 2.79
Total 149.35

Source:Health Education Authority: Health Update 3: Alcohol (1993)—after Godfrey, C. (1992).